First off, the complete name for the lens is the “Tamron 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD (B008) Lens” – while I didn’t mean to offend anyone by shortening it, that’s a bit too much for the title. At any rate, for those who don’t know already, Tamron is pretty much the Cadillac of the camera lens world. The things they come up with over there are amazing in quality and features; and cost more than one pretty penny.
The thing that makes this lens so amazing (other than the obnoxiously long name), is the fact that it has a 15x ratio! That means with one lens you can have anything in the equivalent of a 28mm wide angle lens, all the way to a 420mm telephoto lens. The super zoom lens does a decent job at maintaining image quality throughout most of the zoom range. There is some distortion at full zoom, but that’s pretty much par for the course on a small lens with a large zoom; you’ll really only ever notice it on square or rectangular objects anyways (the sides will appear slightly bowed). It’s nothing that would even cause an issue – but it needs to be mentioned here so people understand that there are costs to such a large zoom.
Another issue standard on superzoom lenses, is something called “vignetting”. This is a pretty much a fancy way of say that the picture will have darker corners, but that’s easily fixed by even a novice at Photoshop. It happens the most when you’re trying to have a close focal point, and is less noticeable when you zoom all the way out. The image is incredibly sharp in the center of the lens though, and there’s no loss of quality there from the closest focal point, all the way to the highest zoom. Chromatic aberration tends to occur at sharp-contrasting transitions in the image corners, but this too can be fixed in Photoshop.
The “PZD” designation in the name refers to Tamron’s “Piezo Drive”. What it is, is an auto focus drive that uses a small piezoelectric motor (or ultrasonic) to control the focusing mechanism with a gear system. While the drive is very quiet, extremely small, and adds almost no weight to the lens, it is not as fast or efficient as a ring style ultrasonic motor (such as Tamron’s own USD motor). You can’t use Manual Focus, unless you flip a switch on the lens to allow it, but it’s not that much of an issue for me (although some purists might complain about not being able to be in manual mode all the time).
When you read the “Di II” in the lens name, that means it’s for use on crop sensor DSLR cameras, and while it can be mounted on a full frame DSLR, the image circle doesn’t cover everything. From what I understand (I didn’t have a full frame DSLR available during the test), that will result in much stronger vignetting than you see on a crop sensor DSLR. I tried to get one sent in so I could experience this effect myself before posting this, but some things aren’t in the cards.
The Tamron 18-270mm PZD B008 Lens features VC as well – or vibration compensation. This is the same thing as image stabilization in other lenses, but on the Tamron lens it seemed to be (to me at least) extremely effective. It works with gyro sensors (no, not the delicious Greek sandwich) to measure lens movement, and then compensates for movement by moving a group of elements – it’s pretty complex stuff for someone like me.
While not in the name on this model (the older, non PZD model had these features in the name), the PZD lens uses both LD (or low dispersion) and aspherical elements to achieve maximum image quality – and it really shows. I’ve used other lenses with focal lengths close to this, and the Tamron lens just dominates them.
Even though everything has been done to reduce the size and weight of this super lens, it still is quite heavy. There were plenty of times during this test that I had forgotten to hit the lock switch on it, and when I took it out of my camera case (my camera case lets the camera and lens hang upside down – fairly common) the lens was fully extended do to gravity. I never had this problem with other lenses, but I suppose if I had just remembered the lock all would have been fine. Still, the lens does add a good bit of weight (which can lead to fatigue of not just using a tripod) to the front of your DSLR.
Overall, this is a great lens that novice and professional photographers alike would be able to use and enjoy. If you don’t want to have to switch lenses constantly to frame different shots, the Tamron 18-270mm PZD B008 could easily become you’re staple lens. Granted, there are a few concessions that have to be made (the dark corners, the distortion, the weight), but none of those are deal breakers, and if you’re after sheer convenience, you just can’t beat this lens. The VC function makes most shots seem like you’re taking pictures from a tripod – even when completely zoomed out, and while the PZD might not be as fast as other models, it more than enough to handle what this lens was made for.
In my book, the Tamron 18-270mm PZD B008 Lens earns a ranking of four and a half out of five stars, and should seriously be considered by anyone looking for an “everything in one” lens. The reviewed lens is available in both Nikon and Canon mounts, or you can get the same lens without the VC feature for Sony DSLR cameras.
- A great choice for having one lens to do the work of many
- The VC feature is one of the best I’ve ever used
- No loss of image quality in the center from the lowest focal point to the farthest zoom
- PZD isn’t as fast as some of it’s counterparts
- Some image quality issues around the edges
- Extremely heavy on the camera (don’t forget to hit the lock switch)
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